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Interviews

Renewed rivalry for final part of Gills trilogy

Friday update from the training ground with Johnnie

24 February 2023

Interviews

Renewed rivalry for final part of Gills trilogy

Friday update from the training ground with Johnnie

24 February 2023

Johnnie Jackson and Neil Harris meet again for the third time this season, with both of their sides in need of points but for differing reasons.

A spectacular strike from distance by Ethan Chislett and a debut to remember for Jack Currie sealed victory on the opening day of the league season, way back at the end of last July. Less than two weeks later though, the Gills soon gained revenge at Plough Lane by ending our EFL Cup involvement in early August.

“It’ll be a tough one,” said Johnnie. “They’re on a really good run of form. They’ve had a big turnover of players last month, bringing a lot of quality into their squad. Their line-up will look a lot different to what it did when we played them earlier in the season. With that comes a different type of test now, going away to their place. It’ll be a different type of game.

“I know Neil well. I’ve come up against him not only this season, but also coached against his teams in the past when our paths have crossed. He’s a good manager and vastly experienced throughout the leagues. He’s got his Gillingham team in really good form, having climbed a few places in the table and they’ve become a different proposition now.”

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Johnnie has been pleased with the response from his squad, since visitors Hartlepool United snatched a point with a late goal towards the end of our two-all draw last weekend.

“I think it shows where we’ve come as a team,” said Johnnie. “We drew a game and are disappointed with that, so we’ve made a lot of progress and we can’t lose sight of that. We want to turn those draws into wins and hopefully we can do that on Saturday.

“It was important that we didn’t let the emotion of conceding late on affect us this week. There were positives to take from our de-brief of the Hartlepool game and remember that we were possibly thirty seconds away from getting a fantastic result.

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Defender Alex Pearce (groin) came off in the game, but he has been involved in final preparations for tomorrow’s match.

“Thankfully it’s not too bad,” said Johnnie. “He’s got through training so we’ll make a late call on Pearcy. It’s good that it wasn’t too serious. Apart from that, everyone else came through the game on Saturday. Everyone has trained this week, so it remains a selection headache for me!

“We spoke a lot about the players we wanted to bring in last month and those that we have are top lads with top attitudes. They want to play, improve and do well. They are desperate to be out on the training pitch and sometimes you have to drag them in!

“That was the case with Ali Al-Hamadi and Saikou Janneh today. They want to do their extras and that’s fine, but we need their energy for tomorrow and it’s about getting that balance right.”

You can listen to the full, pre-match preview with Johnnie Jackson below via our official YouTube channel, ahead of Saturday afternoon’s trip to Priestfield.


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